Mr. Webster defines "oenophile" as "a person who enjoys wine, usually a connoisseur."
And that would indeed describe Denman Moody, who recently self-published a book
called "The Advanced Oenophile."
Moody has tasted the best ('45 Roman&ecute;e-Conti, paired with fresh white Alba
truffles) and toasted with the famous (Andr&ecute; Tchelistcheff, Robert Mondavi,
Michael Broadbent) during his four decades as one of Houston's capital-"O" oenophiles.
But don't be put off by the title. "The Advanced Oenophile" is, in fact, an everyman's
wine book that makes the subject accessible to all.
Both a memoir and primer, it provides a good base for the beginner and enough nuggets
of "inside ball" - including Moody's tasting notes from too many great wines swirled,
swished and spit to count - to also keep us grapevine geeks turning the pages.
If you're inclined toward extreme fits of jealousy, skip the chapters on the soirees
he has attended. Thirty-eight vintages of Cháteau Margaux in a single sitting? Two
centuries of Gruaud-Larose? Fifty-nine '59 Grand Cru Bordeaux? Fifty '61 clarets?
Pairing dinners featuring '74 California cabs and French classics from the legendary
'45 vintage? It ain't fair.
With each chapter on a different geographical region, Moody adds a discourse on
topics as diverse as terroir, bottle size, tasting techniques and cellaring. He
also included contributions from five experts in their respective fields. One particularly
interesting read is Richard Olsen-Harbich's debunking of the "urban legend" of sulfites.
A former banker and a longtime Houston financial consultant, Moody is proud of the
fact that he beat Robert Parker to the punch in the late 1970s by getting his newsletter,
Moody's Wine Review, into circulation before the man who became the planet's most
powerful palate joined the conversation. Moody's book, available at Spec's Midtown,
Bering's and Amazon.com, serves as a retrospective of a life devoted to exploring
A memorable early moment in Moody's grand wine adventure happened while he was living
in Washington and serving as travel aid to U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, who was already
an oenophile. The Bentsens came over for dinner one night in 1970 and Moody, eager
to impress, served a 1964 Cháteau Lafite-Rothschild ... with spaghetti and meatballs.
"I hadn't mentioned what the wine was when I first poured it," Moody recalls, "but
as I'm going around re-filling the glasses (Bentsen) looked at the label and said,
'Denman! Lafite!' "
Moody can't remember where, or even why, he'd bought two bottles of the iconic First
Growth Bordeaux, but the evening was one among several seminal interludes in his
evolution as an oenophile. In his spare time he became a student of wine - "The
Signet Book of Wine" figured prominently in his self-education - and, after joining
the International Wine and Food Society in 1974, he started organizing tastings
"But only two of us stuck with it, me and Lenoir Josey," he said of one of the city's
most respected wine mavens. Moody's hobby turned quite profitable for numerous charities
and good causes as he took it upon himself to round up wine for high-dollar tastings,
auctions and dinners, such as the cystic fibrosis gala. His efforts on behalf of
the Houston Grand Opera in the 1990s earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award.
In recent years Moody has moved into a slower lane. He blogs, hosts the occasional
dinner as a hired gun, travels and mostly collects wines he enjoys drinking. His
personal cellar, and profile, has shrunk, but he's no less passionate about wine.
When Piero Antinori visited for the rodeo wine auction, Moody met him over breakfast.
Asked if there are other modern wine luminaries he hadn't yet rubbed elbows with,
Moody couldn't come up with a single name.
The preceding article was reprinted with permission from 29-95. You can read the
original article on their website site .
Denman Moody started Moody's Wine Review in 1978. In the early '80s, The Washington
Post said it was "...the best newsletter in this country for tracking the state
of rare and exotic wines." At about the same time, Food and Wine magazine said that
Moody was one of their three favorite wine writers along with Robert Finigan and
Robert Parker. In 1984, Moody discontinued publication of Moody's and became the
contributing editor on rare wines for the International Wine Review in New York
until it sold to Wine and Spirits in 1990.
Denman's wine articles also have been published internationally in Revue du Vin
de France, Paris, The International Wine and Food Society Journal, London, and locally
in Houston Home and Garden, DBA Houston, French-American Chamber of Commerce News,
Houston CLU Journal, and Texas Monthly. He is wine editor for four cookbooks: Houston
Is Cooking, 1994; Houston Is Cooking at Home, 1996; Houston Is Cooking the Best,
1998; and Houston Is Cooking 2000.
Denman has written a monthly wine column since 2000 for Houston Lifestyles and Homes,
a popular magazine that is delivered monthly to the top 250,000 homes in Houston.
In addition to this, in 2005 and 2006, he edited and published Moody's Weekly Wine
Review, an Internet wine newsletter. He is also a restaurant wine consultant, working
with restaurants nationally and internationally, including Café Annie in Houston,
Garden of the Gods Club in Colorado Springs, Toscana Country Club in Palm Desert
and the Banff Springs Hotel (now the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel) in Canada. He
has planned the perfect wines and wine/food pairings for weddings, wine tastings,
parties and gourmet wine dinners for over 20 years, and is currently wine consultant
for, Wine and Food
Week , Vinaire
Texas Fall Fest .